Friday, September 30, 2016

Bamfield, eh? (Part 1 of Our Trip to Canada)

"You made it!" The exclamation held just a hint of incredulousness and what sounded almost like relief. Paulina was all smiles as she emerged from the picturesque red house at the top of a long, metal ramp leading down to the wooden dock where our water taxi dropped us off...and 50 pounds of edible freight. Somehow, our one harmless cardboard box of apples morphed into an amassment of local foods: locally caught fish from Port Alberni; a sack each of potatoes, onions, and avocados; eight ears of peaches 'n cream corn; two burly loaves of bread; fancy little indulgences from the Coombs Country Market (cheese! anchovies! chorizo! maple smoked trout tidbits! ketchup chips!!), and five bottles of Wes's obligatory cold brew. When we found out that groceries, convenience stores, or even restaurants would be pretty much nonexistent where we were going, we (happily) spent the day collecting food along the road. Anyway, after getting through 77 km of dusty logging roads (with no GPS) and overcoming the somewhat bewildering process of hailing a water taxi, we finally arrived to our final destination: Bamfield.

Bamfield, a quaint community on the Western edge of Vancouver Island, is the very image of a storybook fishing village. Idyllic clapboard houses couched in forested shorelines, old white chunks of driftwood parked against rocky beaches, boats and yachts bobbing in the inlet, and the occasional otter or whale... it's a place that retains so much old-world charm because it is literally so far away from other forms of civilization. As of 2011, its population totaled 155.

This is a very special place for our neighbors, Paulina and Jeff. They were married here five years ago on Brady's Beach (pictured above), and we were so excited to be invited to celebrate their anniversary with their family and friends this year! Also, the idea of getting to explore this lesser-known region of Canada was both appealing while at the same time intimidating. It is sometimes referred to as the "virgin coast," because the only way over is via logging road or a ferry ride from another small town.

The best part of the first half of our trip was hanging out with this bunch (pictured below). Our new Canadian friends showed us how to fish, how to catch crab, how to spot edible berries and plants in the wild, how to build a fire, and basically how to be a badass survivor. It was inspiring that this all seemed to come so easily to them. We like photographing and trekking through nature, but they showed us how to appreciate the great outdoors in a very up-close and personal way. Also, we learned to seamlessly incorporate the Canadian term: eh? into our daily oral language.

We took so many pictures, so I had to make another post for Part 2.  Yup, a lot can happen in a small Canadian town!